Seeing as how we’ve run reviews of no less than three iterations of ONE PIECE in the past day or so, I was thinking of taking a break with a different series. Then, lo and behold, Hulu’s often random library of material gifted me more episodes of DBZ. My mind struggles to picture what sort of contractual back-and-forth would lead to five specific episodes being such a matter of contention, but… whatever… let’s not look a gift horse in the mouth, OK?
If you were ever trying to explain the notion of filler to your non-otaku friends, I figure this is one of the easiest examples you could ever use to get the point across. These evil Saiyans literally pull over from their ominous, pan-galactic trek to Earth in order to make a pit stop on a planet that’s got jack shit to do with anything in the plot at hand. You can just about picture the frazzled story room meetings at Toei’s office: the story editor anxiously checking the fax machine to see if Toriyama had sent over new pages that day; all the animators then pulling out as many ideas as they can in ten minutes; and so on.
Which isn’t to say that this episode is all that bad, of course.
Up until this point, we’ve only been told to fear Vegeta and Nappa. We haven’t really seen them doing much to make them worth fearing. Now, we’ve seen them nonchalantly murder an entire planet of grateful aliens. Can’t get much more despicable than that, no? It's almost comical. And now we have an absolutely explicit picture of the threat they pose to Earth.
Did we necessarily need 22 minutes to get that point across? Well, that’s up to you, I suppose. Most times, I find “It’s about the journey, not the destination!” to be a real cop-out of an explanation for slow pacing. In this case, the tangents and digressions are at least pretty interesting, in of themselves. Hell, they might even prove to be more interesting than the A-Plot.